Whenever a movie does well at the box office, a sequel is almost instantly secured. And when sequels do great, fans get an entire franchise. Such is the truth of Hollywood, and it’s the reason why the Fast and Furious franchise has managed to churn out 9 (and counting) movies with the same cast time and time again, whether we like it or not.
But what happens after a franchise reaches the end of its road, or needs to branch off into something different? Actors age, but franchises push on. Well, some of these movies remain timeless classics like Jaws, some get rebooted (Robocop, Red Dawn) and some get brought back multiple years later ala Star Trek, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.
In recent years, however, we’ve noticed an upward trend in expanding these worlds, universes and franchises even further in a different format – via animation.
Animated shows have popularly been used to expand universes, usually acting as a semi-sequel or a spin-off of the beloved live-action movies and franchises, and it’s not entirely new. When Star Trek: The Original Series ended, Star Trek: The Animated Series was created to fill that gap, and elements from the animated series have helped build the lore of the final frontier.
In the 1980s, there were continuations of franchises, from The Real Ghostbusters, Back to the Future: The Animated Series, The Mask, Men In Black, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures, and for a while, there was even Stargate Infinity, to continue the journey of off-world travelling. And before The Mandalorian live-action series served as a bridge between the Star Wars trilogies, there was Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Meanwhile, more are on the way, with Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum, who play Clark Kent and Lex Luthor on TV’s Smallville, developing an animated sequel to the Superman TV show, and work starting on an animated Game of Thrones series.
And in the last three years though, we have everything from the recently released Marvel’s What If…? that serves as a continuation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to The Bad Batch Star Wars spin-off. So if you miss a particular TV series or movie franchise, here are 10 animated shows that serve as sequels or spin-offs to popular franchises you need on your watch list!
1. Marvel’s What If…?
As Marvel Studios’ first animated series, Marvel’s What If…? explores hypothetical stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) including Peggy Carter becoming Captain Carter and T’Challa (aka Black Panther) being abducted by the Reavers that took Peter Quill (Star Lord).
2. Fast and Furious: Spy Racers
There’s just something about the bite of asphalt, the dangerous heists, and the cast of characters that have endeared fans to the Fast and Furious franchise. In Fast and Furious: Spy Racers, Dom Toretto’s younger cousin Tony Toretto has a desire to live up to the Toretto family name. And just like the films, it’s not a Fast story if you don’t have friends who are like family. Together with his friends Echo, Cisco and Frostee, the group of teenagers embark on a super-secret mission for the government to take down bad guys.
3. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is an animated film that sees human refugees returning back to Earth to reclaim their home after the Kaiju monster had wreaked and claimed the planet as its own. Dubbed in Japanese, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters manages to make Godzilla look frightening as it would in live-action and even earned itself two more sequels.
4. Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous
Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous (as you would already guess) is a spin-off to the Jurassic World movie. The animated series sees a group of six teenagers who are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at a state of the art adventure camp on the opposite side of Isla Nublar: Camp Cretaceous. Once the events of Jurassic World occur and the dinosaurs get loose, the teens find themselves stranded and needing to rely on each other to survive. Educational and adventurous, Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous is entertaining for children and adults who grew up on the classic Jurassic Park films.
5. Pacific Rim: The Black
Giant robots and monsters throwing punches at each other…but animated! An international monster story, Pacific Rim: The Black sees a world under assault by giant monsters (aka Kaijus) who pull themselves out of an interdimensional breach in the ocean. To fight the Kaijus, humans build huge machines called Jaegers; two pilots per Jaeger link minds to control the robots and kick Kaiju ass.
6. Star Trek: Lower Decks
Star Trek: Lower Decks is the ninth Star Trek series to exist. It’s the franchise’s first animated series since the 1970s series Star Trek: The Animated Series, and is the franchise’s first comedic series too. Lower Decks follows the low-ranking support crew of the starship U.S.S. Cerritos in the year 2380, and stars a few characters from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The crew members have to keep up with their duties whilst fighting aliens, anomalies and more.
7. Star Trek: Short Treks
Ok, we’re cheating a little here. As most trekkies would know, Star Trek: Short Treks is a stand-alone series that explores key characters and themes that fit into Star Trek: Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe. Whilst usually a live-action story, season 2 received some animated episodes. Does this mean Short Treks will move forward with animated episodes moving forward or explore a hybrid of both formats? Who knows! But the fact that a few episodes were animated shows that animation has some sort of pull and interest within the fandom.
8. Star Wars: Rebels
Star Wars: Rebels is yet another Star Wars series you need to watch – especially if you love the original trilogy. Which, let’s be real, who doesn’t? Rebels kicks off five years before the events of A New Hope and like Clone Wars, the action of the series goes down in the years between the films. Rebels softly acts as a sequel to Clone Wars and if you’re dying to know what happens to Ahsoka Tano, Rex and Maul after the events of Clone Wars, then Rebels can provide some answers. Rebels focuses quite a bit on the war in Mandalore, Mandalorian culture and history too.
9. Star Wars: The Bad Batch
Star Wars: The Bad Batch is a spin-off series based on the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series. The series focuses on an elite group of experimental clones in a post-Clone Wars era. With each member of the Bad Batch equipped with unique skills, the soldiers band together to take on dangerous mercenary missions, all while attempting to stay afloat and find a new purpose in life.
10. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a standalone anime that explores the history and lore of the popular TV series, The Witcher, even further. Existing within the same universe, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf focuses on Vesemir, a cocky young witcher who takes delight in slaying monsters for coin. When a dangerous new power rises on the Continent, Vesemir learns that some witchering jobs are about more than just money. And if you’re wondering, yes Vesemir is that grumpy old “fatherly” figure for Geralt who has appeared in the books and video games.
Bonus: Star Trek: Prodigy
Out of the entire list, Star Trek: Prodigy has yet to premiere. Releasing sometime in 2021, Prodigy follows a group of teenagers who use an abandoned starship to search for adventure. It is set after the events of Star Trek: Voyager and sees Kate Mulgrew reprising her role as Kathryn Janeway, as well as voice actors Rylee Alazraqui, Brett Gray, Angus Imrie, Jason Mantzoukas, Ella Purnell, and Dee Bradley Baker.
And there you have it, top 10 animated sequels and spin-offs to popular movies and TV franchises from Star Wars, Marvel, Star Trek and Jurassic World and more! Happy binging!